Textures and Textiles Dazzle at the Arts Barn
Artists in the new “Textures and Textiles” exhibit at the Arts Barn spoke about their work and what inspires it at an opening reception on April 12. Curator Mary Weiss-Waldhorn brought Karen Birch, Eric Celarier, Whitney Dahlberg, Tony Glander and Margaret Hluch together in one show to bring the community a spectrum of artistic interpretation that is somewhat non-traditional yet accessible to all. Recycled “found” materials, glass, weaving, encaustic wax, embroidery, beadwork and quilting are all represented in a stunning textural mosaic that highlights each artist’s individual passion.
I was thoroughly taken with the style and deeply thoughtful words of sculptor and Mill Creek Towne Elementary School art teacher Eric Celarier. His work is a manifestation of society’s consumption. “I use trash as a metaphor for the choices we make. I mean to describe the kinds of interactions we have made in the environment.” His recycled computer circuit board “quilts” are each hand-cut and hand-sewn together as a frame with strips of leather that produce the quality of a textile. No other adhesives are used. Celarier described computers as the “most fundamental achievement that has changed our lives. People never see it. Take a moment to think about how we fit into our world and community—our values. That is why I’m an artist.” His oversized insect sculptures are constructed of garbage and found objects and given pseudo-Latin names. “We’re changing the environment,” Celarier said. “Creatures of the future will have to adapt to us.”
Self-proclaimed inventor of the 52-Week Challenge and owner of the Downtown Frederick boutique The Muse, Whitney Dahlberg embarked on a personal challenge to craft one artwork a week for an entire year. I was impressed with Dahlberg’s demeanor as she explained her experience of weaving events in her life and those occurring each week into her intricate quilting and found material squares. “Looking at them now,” she said, “I know what happened each week.” Fifteen of the pieces are on display for the first time in this exhibit. All 52 will be shown at Frederick’s Delaplaine Arts Center in July.
Glassmaker and Arts Barn resident artist Tony Glander spoke about his experience with a new technique used to form the glass bowls on display, created by stacking glass in cubes in a mold and firing them together until they stick. A natural folding of the glass occurs at 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit and produces flat folds that appear lace-like with a kaleidoscope of crushed glass gems accenting the base. “I like glass that looks like this,” Glander said, “in motion.” After his presentation, the lights were dimmed and Glander’s son Lucas shined light on one of the bowls to show it glowing in the dark. The pieces are part of a project Glander recently completed, making 50 bowls as he turned 50.
Karin Birch starts with color and slow stitching to make her delicate abstract embroideries blossom. “I don’t have a plan,” she said. “I see an interesting spot and I start to stitch. I’m working abstractly, but I want something solid—a pattern.” Birch’s meticulous stitch work and colorful jewel-like beading is mesmerizing to the eye. A large piece can take one to two months of full-time work to complete. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” she told the crowd. “I felt like I was in a place where I needed to have a lot of challenges and push boundaries.”
Margaret Hluch chose weaving because she loves color and texture. “You weave line by line and cannot do the whole thing at once. As you weave it, it disappears.” Many of her works are influenced by travels throughout the world. “I paint the threads like a painting. They represent my life over the last 25 years,” Hluch explained. She also makes flowing scarves and works with encaustic wax. I was particularly drawn to her five vibrantly colored encaustic wax pieces in the show.